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Law And Death Definitions Notes

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Law and Death Definitions What is Death?

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The legal definition of death o Bland
? Lords Browne Wilkinson, Goff and Keith:

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Brain stem death is the definition of death for the purposes of medicine and law o Since B is suffering from PVS and is not brain stem dead, he is therefore alive. o Re C (A Minor) (Medical Treatment)
? This probably therefore means that the legal definition of death will coincide with the medical one,

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whatever the parents views, religious or otherwise, are on the subject.

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Alternative Definitions o Brain stem death
? DoH's Code of Practice:

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Three requirements under o 1. The coma is not due to reversible causes, such as drug overdose o 2. It must be demonstrated that the several components of the brain stem have been permanently destroyed
? This significantly includes the respiratory centre o 3. It must be proved that the patient is unable to breathe spontaneously

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The code suggests that two medical practitioners registered for more than five years and are specialists in the field should agree there is brain death, before pronouncing it.

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Brain stem death o Caudal lowest part of brain connecting spinal cord with rest of brain o DOH: on diagnosis of brain stem death
? Irreversible causes
? Several component permanently destroyed
? Unable to breathe spontaneously
? 2 experts agree o Why this?
? Shewmon: Loss of integrated whole - if you lose stem then body and brain no longer works together
? Lizza: if anything entails one's death, decapitation certainly does, despite whatever artificial support might be given to sustain one's decapitated body as an integrated organism

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Thus if we are willing to accept decapitation as death, we should also be willing to accept physiological decapitation (total brain failure) as death o Objections
? Miller and Truog:

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Chicken might still run around when decapitated, but we know its dead really.

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How about the pregnant dead?

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